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After 8.5 hours of deliberations, Drew Peterson jurors break for night

Det. Dave Margliano (left) Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow (right) depart as they await verdict during Drew Petersmurder trial

Det. Dave Margliano (left) and Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow (right) depart as they await a verdict during the Drew Peterson murder trial at the Will County Courthouse Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media

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Jurors begin discussing the evidence and deliberate for 8½ hours without reaching a verdict.

The jury hears clerk reread testimony from two key witnesses: the Rev. Neil Schori, who counseled Stacy Peterson, and Harry Smith, who represented Kathleen Savio in her divorce and also talked to Stacy Peterson.

Jurors also were allowed to look at autopsy photos showing bruises and abrasions on Savio’s body. They also saw photos showing Savio’s body in her bathrub.

Jurors resume deliberations Thursday.

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Updated: October 7, 2012 7:54AM

Drew Peterson’s jurors had barely started deliberating Wed­nesday when they abruptly returned to the courtroom to review testimony from two key witnesses.

The jury asked to review trial statements from the Rev. Neil Schori and divorce attorney Harry Smith — both of whom recounted claims by Peterson’s missing fourth wife that tied Peterson to the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Will County Judge Edward Burmila opted to call jurors back into court, where a clerk spent nearly 90 minutes rereading testimony, as well as reciting records of phone calls between Peterson and Savio on the weekend she died.

Jurors deliberated for about 8½ hours Wednesday before being sent home for the night.

Deliberations resume Thursday.

The nature of the questions asked by jurors less than 90 minutes after they began discussing the case left prosecutors upbeat.

State’s Attorney James Glasgow said he was feeling “guardedly confident.’’

Besides wanting to hear testimony from Schori and Smith, jurors asked to see autopsy photos of bruises and abrasions and death-scene photos of Savio lying dead in her bathtub.

Burmila agreed to allow jurors to see the photos.

He also let the jury review a police report from Savio regarding an alleged July 2002 threat by a knife-wielding Peterson and a letter she wrote to a prosecutor describing that incident.

Peterson’s attorneys downplayed the rapid series of written questions sent out of the jury room, saying they covered virtually all the critical issues in the trial.

“I don’t think you can read anything into this,” attorney Steve Greenberg said. “They’re looking at all parts of the case.”

Given the five weeks of evidence jurors heard, some questions should be expected, he said.

“It’s not unusual for a trial of this length,” Greenberg said.

Savio, 40, was found dead in her bathtub on March 1, 2004, while she and Peterson were still fighting about dividing their financial assets after their recent divorce.

Her death initially was classified as an accident, but that changed after Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, vanished in October 2007.

Savio’s body was exhumed and a new investigation labeled her death a murder.

Drew Peterson was charged in May 2009 with killing her and, prosecutors have argued, staging her death to look like an accidental drowning.

Attorney for Peterson, 58, have insisted throughout the trial that Savio’s death was an accident.

But Schori testified that Stacy Peterson had confided during an August 2007 counseling session that her husband had ordered her to lie to police investigating Savio’s death.

Stacy Peterson said she saw her husband — clad all in black clothing — come home late on the night authorities think Savio died with a bag of women’s clothes that weren’t Stacy’s, Schori testified.

Schori recounted that Stacy Peterson claimed her husband put his clothes and the women’s clothes in the washer, then warned her police that would come soon to question her.

Smith testified that Stacy told him during an October 2007 phone call that she knew how Peterson had killed Savio.

She asked if she could use that information to obtain a better divorce settlement from Peterson, Smith said.

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